These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Michigan For 2019


We used science and data to determine which places in Michigan are basically dead broke.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the poorest places in Michigan.

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Michigan brings to mind images of Lansing, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you’ll find in the good ole US of A.

However, like all states, Michigan has certain places that are going on hard times. These places have an above average percent of people that are living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.

With all the talk about income inequality going on around the country, we thought it prudent to take a look at the places in each state that are struggling to make it even as the economy continues to improve. So we set our sites on bringing attention to the places in Michigan that could use a helping hand.

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 149 places in Michigan with more than 5,000 people.

We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Wolverine State for 2019:

  1. Highland Park (Photos)
  2. Benton Harbor (Photos)
  3. Flint (Photos)
  4. Hamtramck (Photos)
  5. Muskegon Heights (Photos)
  6. Ecorse (Photos)
  7. Detroit (Photos)
  8. River Rouge (Photos)
  9. Big Rapids (Photos)
  10. Muskegon (Photos)

Again, this isn’t a commentary on the people that live there or the vibrant culture and traditions of these places. Instead, it’s just a look at the facts.

And according to the facts, Highland Park is the poorest place in Michigan for 2019.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in Michigan or the most dangerous.

For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the poorest states in America or the poorest cities in America.

For more Michigan reading, check out:

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Michigan for 2019

The first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think about determining the poorest places is to simply the poverty rate. That is, the number of people living below a federally established level of income for a household of a certain size.

However, we don’t think that one statistic wholly encompasses what it means to be one of the “poorest places”. So we looked at this set of criteria from the newly released 2013-2017 American Community Survey:

  • Poverty Level
  • Median Household Income adjusted for the cost of living
  • Unemployment Rate

The “median household income adjusted for the cost of living” attempts to gauge how expensive it is to live in a place and how that impacts the quality of life. For example, a town might have fewer people living below the official poverty line, but the cost of living is so high they’d still feel poor.

The unemployment rate tries to capture the prospects for improvement in the city or town. If more people are employed, the brighter the future looks and vice versa.

After we collected the data for all 149 places with more than 5,000 people in Michigan, we ranked each place from 1 to 149 for each of the criteria, with 1 being the poorest.

We then averaged all the rankings for a place into a “Poor Score” with the place having the lowest overall Poor Score, Highland Park, crowned the “Poorest Place In Michigan For 2019”.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 149 places.

Highland Park, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 10,955
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $15,699 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 29.4% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 49.0% (2nd highest)
More on Highland Park:  Data | Photos

Highland Park, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Michigan thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.

The city of 10,955 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in Michigan and the 2nd highest poverty rate. At the very least, the cost of living ranks in the bottom 15% of place in the state, so things like housing are relatively affordable.

Benton Harbor, MI

Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 9,944
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $20,157 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 20.8% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 48.0% (3rd highest)
More on Benton Harbor:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Michigan is Benton Harbor.

The city ranks as having the 3rd highest incidence of poverty and 2nd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 4th highest in the Wolverine State.

Flint, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 97,810
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $26,330 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 22.2% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 41.2% (6th highest)
More on Flint:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Flint’s median income ranks as the 7th lowest.

And that’s a sign that there’s a relatively substantial jump in the quality of the economy from second to third place on our list. The poverty rate is 41.2% and ranks near the bottom of places in the state.

But what makes up for the relatively low incomes of the city is its low cost of living. The income you do make here goes further than in most parts of the Wolverine State.

Hamtramck, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 21,959
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Median Income: $24,369 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.9% (13th highest)
Poverty Rate: 50.9% (1st highest)
More on Hamtramck:  Data | Photos

Hamtramck ranks as the fourth poorest place in Michigan.

The town ranks as having the 4th lowest median household income and the 1st highest incidence of poverty in the state.

That being said, there’s still a ton of cultural diversity in the city as it hosts many events throughout the year.

Muskegon Heights, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 10,743
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Income: $25,411 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.9% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 39.3% (7th highest)
More on Muskegon Heights:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Michigan is Muskegon Heights.

The city ranks as having the 6th lowest median income in the state. However, an extremely low cost of living prevents a good number of folks from living in poverty as the poverty rate only ranks as the 7th highest in Michigan.

Still not the best news for Muskegon Heights.

Ecorse, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 9,321
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 4)
Median Income: $23,556 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.8% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 36.8% (12th highest)
More on Ecorse:  Data | Photos

Ecorse ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Wolverine State.

It ranks as having the 12th highest incidence of poverty and the 7th highest unemployment rate.

Detroit, MI

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 679,865
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $27,838 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 19.8% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 37.9% (10th highest)
More on Detroit:  Data | Photos

Detroit places as the seventh poorest city in Michigan.

The city of over 679,865 ranks as having the 10th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

River Rouge, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 7,559
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Income: $29,671 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 21.6% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 38.6% (8th highest)
More on River Rouge:  Data | Photos

River Rouge ranks as the eighth poorest city in Michigan.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 3rd highest in the state.

Big Rapids, MI

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 10,413
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $24,760 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.5% (18th highest)
Poverty Rate: 43.7% (4th highest)
More on Big Rapids:  Data | Photos

Big Rapids couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Michigan; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 5th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Big Rapids ranks as having the 4th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Michigan.

Muskegon, MI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 38,189
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Income: $29,388 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.7% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 34.7% (14th highest)
More on Muskegon:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Michigan is Muskegon.

The city of 38,189 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Wolverine State.

There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Michigan For 2019

Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in Michigan, we weren’t sure what we’d encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in Michigan.

When you look at the data, the cities and places mentioned above meet the criteria for being at the very bottom of the income ladder for everyone that lives there.

If you’re curious enough, here are the richest cities in Michigan, according to data:

    Richest: Huntington Woods
    2nd Richest: Beverly Hills
    3rd Richest: Grosse Pointe Farms

For more Michigan reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Michigan

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Highland Park 10,955 49.0%
2 Benton Harbor 9,944 48.0%
3 Flint 97,810 41.2%
4 Hamtramck 21,959 50.9%
5 Muskegon Heights 10,743 39.3%
6 Ecorse 9,321 36.8%
7 Detroit 679,865 37.9%
8 River Rouge 7,559 38.6%
9 Big Rapids 10,413 43.7%
10 Muskegon 38,189 34.7%
11 Saginaw 49,366 33.6%
12 Dowagiac 5,812 36.8%
13 Pontiac 60,039 34.1%
14 Inkster 24,670 33.2%
15 Albion 8,263 31.2%
16 Jackson 32,875 32.8%
17 Alma 9,108 30.6%
18 Mount Pleasant 25,711 37.8%
19 East Lansing 48,281 42.5%
20 Ironwood 5,051 28.0%
21 Ypsilanti 20,804 30.9%
22 Lapeer 8,769 21.5%
23 Niles 11,332 30.4%
24 Port Huron 29,285 25.4%
25 Springfield 5,203 24.2%
26 Greenville 8,385 26.1%
27 Hillsdale 8,170 29.4%
28 Kalamazoo 75,833 31.0%
29 Houghton 7,882 38.0%
30 Cadillac 10,375 23.6%
31 Lansing 115,222 27.1%
32 Ionia 11,253 27.4%
33 Melvindale 10,432 28.0%
34 Bay City 33,736 22.2%
35 Mount Clemens 16,383 22.4%
36 Adrian 20,743 25.9%
37 Center Line 8,299 20.3%
38 Hazel Park 16,587 25.8%
39 Ludington 8,047 16.5%
40 Battle Creek 51,505 22.6%
41 Owosso 14,641 22.4%
42 Alpena 10,123 21.0%
43 Lincoln Park 37,028 19.9%
44 Marquette 21,081 25.3%
45 Escanaba 12,364 19.2%
46 Burton 28,856 19.6%
47 Wayne 17,090 23.8%
48 Sturgis 10,861 25.5%
49 Menominee 8,298 16.6%
50 Romulus 23,479 18.7%
51 Taylor 61,648 19.8%
52 Hastings 7,289 18.2%
53 Dearborn 95,295 29.1%
54 Three Rivers 7,726 21.7%
55 Warren 135,147 19.4%
56 Sault Ste. Marie 13,798 23.1%
57 Manistee 6,079 18.6%
58 Grand Rapids 195,355 22.5%
59 Eastpointe 32,601 17.9%
60 Belding 5,730 16.5%
61 Harper Woods 13,890 13.3%
62 Roseville 47,617 17.6%
63 Monroe 20,128 19.5%
64 Charlotte 9,062 20.2%
65 Dearborn Heights 56,201 19.2%
66 Ishpeming 6,484 19.9%
67 Iron Mountain 7,450 15.4%
68 Eaton Rapids 5,191 16.1%
69 St. Louis 7,261 15.2%
70 Westland 82,172 14.6%
71 Holly 6,173 14.2%
72 Southfield 73,228 13.0%
73 Fenton 11,364 13.8%
74 Oak Park 29,824 13.3%
75 Madison Heights 30,173 17.3%
76 Coldwater 10,819 14.8%
77 Petoskey 5,696 10.1%
78 Kingsford 5,044 17.2%
79 Grand Blanc 7,964 12.2%
80 Wyoming 75,124 15.5%
81 Southgate 29,291 11.4%
82 Auburn Hills 22,644 12.1%
83 Flushing 8,058 15.6%
84 Ann Arbor 119,303 22.1%
85 Howell 9,514 14.6%
86 St. Johns 7,894 16.9%
87 Wyandotte 25,175 10.8%
88 Allegan 5,027 13.2%
89 Richmond 5,871 13.7%
90 Marshall 7,016 13.6%
91 Midland 41,958 12.4%
92 Walled Lake 7,174 8.2%
93 St. Clair 5,375 13.7%
94 Grand Haven 10,929 9.0%
95 Holland 33,488 13.2%
96 Zeeland 5,584 9.4%
97 Swartz Creek 5,565 6.8%
98 Kentwood 51,154 13.6%
99 St. Clair Shores 59,865 8.5%
100 Norton Shores 24,234 11.1%

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